Carbon Footprint



In 2013 we launched a new life cycle assessment (LCA) project with scientists at Enviance, an environmental consulting firm, to estimate our System’s global carbon footprint. They evaluated the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with our System including restaurants, Company offices, and food and packaging supply chains and delivery systems worldwide.

Using a hybrid LCA model that combines input-output and process LCA methods, Enviance estimated and categorized our Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions according to the World Resources Institute/World Business Council for Sustainability Development GHG Protocol. This analysis builds on the momentum of regional and supply chain-specific studies completed in the past. These results are approximate, based on best available data. We will continue to refine our global analysis in the years to come.


Key Emissions Results

The majority of our Systemwide carbon footprint impacts (over 70%) occur in our supply chain and the agriculture systems that produce raw materials for our menu items. Across these raw materials, the major GHG emissions-driving activities include:

  • Cattle raising to produce our beef, cheese and dairy; major drivers include enteric fermentation and feed-lot manure management.

  • Electricity usage across farms, plants and distribution centers

  • Grain farming to produce our buns, baked goods and feed for animals

GHG emissions from Company offices and all Restaurants, including Franchisees, represents nearly 30% of the total. Electricity usage is the primary driver. A small proportion is associated with in-restaurant waste and on-site gas combustion for hot water heating and cooking.

When we categorize our System’s carbon footprint according to the GHG Protocol, indirect emissions across the value chain (Scope 3) represent an estimated 95% of our overall footprint; this is primarily due to emissions from Franchisee restaurants and our supply chain. Our direct GHG emissions from Company–owned operations (Scope 1) and our indirect energy purchases at Company-owned facilities (Scope 2) represent an estimated 5% of our overall footprint. Detailed figures can be found on the Climate & Energy landing page of this website.

For McDonald’s, Scopes 1 and 2 reflect GHG emissions associated with our Company-owned restaurants and offices, and include purchased fuel, electricity and refrigerants. Most Scope 3 emissions are associated with Franchisee restaurants and our supply chain. Note that the certainty of our Scope 1 and 2 results is greater than that of Scope 3 because the inherent complexity of our supply chain required the use of industry averages and third-party data to complete the analysis.


Implications for Action Across Our System

Our estimated carbon footprint validates the appropriateness of our focus on mitigating our System’s GHG emissions impacts over time, especially through our beef sustainability strategy in our supply chain and in our energy management focus in the restaurants.

Since the majority of our System’s impacts are beyond our direct control - for example, our suppliers and Franchisees - we need to work collaboratively with all parts of our System to make progress.